Church Shoes |
by M. Nasorri Pavone

I learned about faith and fashion
in the white patent leather shoes
I tiptoed to church in,
too tight, the wrong size.
My aunt mailed them across country.
For a short year she had
a friend in the shoe biz,
and could these toss outs be of use?
What luck for me whose mother
shook her head at patent leather
and to her, white was a soil savior
not a color.  I owned nothing white
as a child, not even white socks,
well, white cotton underwear,
and then my First Holy Communion dress
which became my going to church dress
until the Sundays of too much thigh
between hem and knees
and it vanished from my closet.
I could fake it in the shoes, though.
Who could tell but me
and the two pale kittens I squeezed
into their showy pens?

Our family believed in Jesus Christ,
weekly mass and one pair of sturdy brown
shoes for each kid to last, Amen.
Father Kieser had a lisp.
You are thinners.  Make thacrifices.
Carry your croth.
My mother, for instance,
had my father.  He was heavy.
I had no faith that I would ever
get shoes again this pretty.
I turned eight, nine and ten in them.
And was I proved right because
of my faithlessness?  Surely I believed
in angels over shoulders,
the hushed prayer in the lighted candle.
I'm afraid the kid's a dreamer,
my father said.  He watched me
stroke the cover of the library book
cradled in my arm where a baby doll
didn't.  But Daddy, I've been practicing.
See how I hold on?  I can hold back.
Now watch me walk for all
that will pinch and burn as I
blister my natural to a hobble
for beauty, man, God and beauty.

M. Nasorri Pavone's poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, River Styx, New Letters, Harpur Palate, Bluestem, DMQ Review, La Fovea and elsewhere. She also writes plays. Her latest, Feeding Time celebrated its world premiere at the 2012 Hollywood Fringe Festival.  She is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles and lives in Venice, California.